IS MAYWEATHER THE NEW LANCE ARMSTRONG?
By TOM WATT on September 18 2015
In a recent article, American Author Thomas Hauser, exposed some activity surround an IV that was administered to Floyd Mayweather after his weigh-in for his highly anticipated clash with Manny Pacquiao earlier this year – a fight which had taken the better part of a decade to make in no small part due to demands from the Mayweather camp surrounding anti-doping tests. Mayweather has been a vocal supporter of USADA testing before his fights and has claimed on many occasions that he is the main person trying to clean up the sport.
With Mayweather being such an active advocate for testing and being the most prominent figure in the sport, these recent revelations have trudged up memories of disgraced former cyclist, Lance Armstrong who himself took an aggressive Anti-Doping stance before it was later revealed he was one of the main offenders in such activities.
Much has been said about the controversial IV since the article dropped earlier this week and below I look at some of the fall-out and give my opinion on the matter. To see the full article from Hauser see here.
In short, the article alleges that USADA collection agents went to the home of the long-time P4P Champion and “found evidence of an IV being administered to Mayweather.” – first and foremost it is worth noting the official USADA stance on the use of IVs, the below statement is from the WADA prohibited substance and method list for 2015. (WADA, the World Anti-Doping agency sets the standards that USADA purports to follow.
“Intravenous infusions and/or injections of more than 50 ml per 6 hour period are prohibited except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital admissions, surgical procedures, or clinical investigations.”
So, the use of an IV is prohibited unless used as part of a medical procedure or necessity, at a hospital. It is certainly not something that should be administered at home, let alone without prior notification of the authorities. So Mayweather’s team, having always claimed their strict adherence to USADA would have done that right? Wrong. But at least USADA responded immediately and made the correct authorities aware? Wrong again.
In fact, it was 20 days after the IV was discovered (19 days after the fight) that USADA notified the NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) of their decision to grant Mayweather a retroactive Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to Mayweather. All of this despite the fact that TUE was an issue raised in contract negotiations by Pacquiao’s teams who cited that Mayweather could use the TUE to ‘game the system’. – Which it certainly appeared that he did.
Another reason for the banned use of Saline IVs is that because, “in addition to being administered for the purpose of adding specific substances to a person’s body, an IV infusion can dilute or mask the presence of another substance that is already in the recipient’s system or might be added to it in the near future.” So there seems legitimate reasons for Doping Agencies to watch out for this behaviour. And with someone as vocal about cleaning up the sport as Mayweather is, there has to be huge question marks around the shadiness in which all this has transpired and was subsequently dealt with.
I don’t necessarily believe Mayweather was on steroids or PEDs but he was certainly gaining an advantage through being able to rehydrate via an IV at the very least. Given the media war he waged on Pacquiao over a number of years for his alleged use of PEDs, it is unimaginable that the fight would have gone ahead should USADA have caught the Filipino superstar administering an IV less than 24 hours prior to the fight. In fact, Pacquioa’s name would have been dragged through the mud and Mayweather would have felt vindicated in all of his previous statements – and the fight (for better or worse) probably wouldn’t have happened.
It must also be remembered that Pacquiao was denied a pain-killing injection prior to the fight, an injection that would be perfectly legal under USADA rules, which according to the fighter seriously hampered his performance and ability to be aggressive. Whether or not this truly affected Pacquiao’s game is up for debate but what is not up for debate is that the two fighters were treated very differently by USADA and the NSAC – not giving them the level playing field Mayweather stated so often that he wanted.
In fact providing a level playing field is something Mayweather is vehemently against, announcing his fights late and imposing his own rules and regulations on testing that he obviously doesn’t adhere to himself - relying on his financial relationship with USADA to cover over any cracks that may appear such as the issue with the now well-documented IV. The issue of USADA’s fee structures have led to many, including Hauser, to question the legitimacy of their bias as an Anti-Doping agency – USADA were given $150,000 up front fee for the Mayweather Pacquiao fight and have been involved in Mayweather fights since he fought Shane Mosley – they have made a lot of money from Floyd and a lot of public support from one of the World’s greatest athletes, is it so unbelievable that they might be open to bending the rules for their star customer?
Another good point made by Hauser is the short-notice Mayweather has been giving his opponents lately – the Pacquiao fight was announced only 39 days prior to the event, a dramatically short time given most fights of that magnitude usually have a minimum of a 12-week build-up in the media (and for the fighters in camp). One theory is that Floyd likes doing this for a mental edge, proving that he calls the shots and getting into his opponents head, that’s a theory I’ve subscribed to myself and don’t necessarily hold it against Mayweather, he is at the top of this sport and in some ways he has earnt the right to do just that. However, Hauser comments that this also leaves very little time for legitimate Anti-Doping testing to be done as well as allowing a longer time for any PEDs used early on in training camp to be flushed out of his system before a contract is signed and testing can begin. – Mayweather has often stated he promotes ‘Olympic-Style testing’ but that is nothing more than rhetoric as Olympic testing is 365-24-7, meaning athletes can be tested anywhere any time – at the moment USADA only tests once a contract is signed for a fight.
Whether or not there was any PEDs or steroids being used by Mayweather in his career will now be discussed furiously by the Boxing fraternity. One defence repeatedly thrown out by Mayweather, TMT CEO Leonard Ellerbe and the Mayweather entourage is that he is the man that has been driving to clean up the sport but as we have seen in the past, that is not proof that he himself is above such methods. – Lance Armstrong was a huge advocate for kicking drug cheats out of cycling for years and aggressively pursued those who questioned whether or not he had used them himself, even taking some people to court for defamation of character! – we all know how that turned out.
I’m not saying Mayweather was a drug cheat or using PEDs at all, let alone on the scale of Armstrong, but he certainly bent or broke the rules in this instance alone and purely because of who is and the power he wields over USADA and the NSAC (because of the money he generates for them) he was able to almost avoid any media coverage of his failure to comply with USADA standard, the standards he so openly supports and pushed on his opponents.
The final lingering thought I have about all of this is how differently this whole issue would be covered if it was Pacquiao or any other Boxer that was in the position, caught illegally administering an IV the day before a huge fight, I can literally see no way on this earth that it wouldn’t have been immediately reported to the NSAC and potentially stopped the fight going ahead, no doubt triggering some financial clause in the contract, Instead nothing was done for 20 days and even then it was a retro-active ‘get-out-jail-free’ card from USADA. The way in which someone such as Mayweather is able to operate with impunity because of his status in the sport is something Boxing needs to address if it is to become a cleaner sport, testing should be just as (if not more) strict on the elite athletes as it is for amateurs and more importantly, punishment should not vary based on the bank balance or popularity of the offending athlete.
What do you think about this issue? Please comment and let us know below!
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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